"Earth, the most static of all elements, is assumed to be the most easily manipulated. This is not true, for it requires much in the way of mental prowess to truly move earth and stone itself. What makes earth more basic is its ease in control: losing your focus while shifting a mass of dirt doesn't have the same side effects as with a towering inferno spouting from your hooves. To begin, we must establish a distinction between the elemental power of moving earth and the telekinesis ability. In essence these are the same, you reach out with your mind and, through force of will alone, move the object of your desires. Shifting earth is not in the same spirit, however; one does not simply reach out with an invisible claw and pluck the earth from its source, as with telekinesis, but rather forces the source itself to move with the grace and poise of water. To shape a mountain is a feat that only the powers of the planet itself have done, but even those had to start somewhere. Step onto soft ground, young mage, and make yourself as rigid and unmoving as stone.
Twilight read over the short paragraph and thought intently about just what this meant. The book's establishment of that distinction between telekinesis and earth magic tempted her to simply try it. Everything this book said was a temptation as a matter of fact, and poor Twilight fell for it every single time. She trotted downstairs, passing Spike as he cooked some kind of delicious-smelling meal, and headed toward the doorway into the library's back yard. She made sure to stay quiet as she did this to avoid grabbing the dragon's attention; she knew he'd just start worrying if she started doing experiments outside.
The unicorn floated the book alongside her without using any magic, but still had to channel her telekinesis through her horn to open doors with the grace and silence that she needed at this moment. As the doorway clicked shut behind her and she stepped out into the waning light of the setting sun, Twilight felt invigorated. The orange rays cast over her body gave her a warmth that she hadn't felt all day, and the beauty of the nature surrounding her reminded her just why she loved Ponyville so much; it did not remind her of her friends, however. She flipped the book open and found the page that detailed earth magic, reading over it and scanning for some kind of procedural steps to follow.
Begin by planting your hooves firmly to soft ground, rock will be too difficult for the time being...
Twilight didn't need to step too far from the door before she found soft soil, standing with her hooves firmly planted into it and balancing her weight on each leg as perfectly as she could. She instinctively spread her legs to about shoulder and hip width during this stance, taking a powerful, almost intimidating body language as she flipped through the book once more.
Tilt your head down and close your eyes. Focus on the ground around you, smell it, breathe it in, and examine its essence.
The idea was a strange one, but she did her best. She shut her eyes and lowered her head as much as she could without straining, taking long and deep breaths to focus her senses. It took a few minutes of this quiet meditation before she began to catch onto what the book was hinting at: actually feeling the rhythm of the planet around her. Something akin to a pulse gently caressed her hooves from beneath, and the wind gave her the feeling of breath on her neck. The slightest movements and changes in the immediate environment became apparent and important to the unicorn, attuning her until even her own heart shared the beat with that of the ground. She tilted her head back up, relaxing in her total focus and opening her eyes, studying the book for more progression.
"Well done, mage. You've brought your body in line with the earth, and through this you may shift it with your will. Try to create something, and don't be squeamish about over-doing it; you'll need all of your power to shift the earth, even this soft soil before you. To create a mountain, you must start with a hill."
Twilight moved the book away from her view and rested it softly on her back, feeling that she would need full focus for this to work (and certainly respecting the opinion of the book's judgment on her power). She gazed out onto the ground before her, picking an exact spot and dialing in on it. Her heart rate was steady and stoic for this, continuing to pulse in unison with the feeling in her hooves, and making her feel as if she were one with the ground itself. This feeling sparked a thought in her mind; to treat the earth as an extension of herself (she had read that in a fantasy novel someplace), so she imagined an unseen appendage below the spot on the ground that she was focusing on. This new appendage, gaining its own feelings and actions within her mind, grew and grew as she willed it into being, drawing strength from the unicorn's very being as she forced it against the ground. She could feel the pull and shift, watching intently for any signs of movement with the earth below her. The more she focused, the more powerful it felt, and subsequently the more invigorating this all was. She began to breathe harder, but not faster, taking in more oxygen with each breath as the muscles in her body strained to keep herself steady. The 'muscles' in her projected arm were the only ones really gaining any kind of work, however, and with each second of added strength she could feel the ground compress upward. Just a little more, Twilight, she thought to herself, grinding her teeth as she fought against all of the powers of the planet, watching tiny pebbles and other small earth-bound objects quiver in the spot before her. Just... A little... Bit... More!
Twilight watched her designated spot rise from the ground, tenting up around it like a perfectly round molehill, bringing an inertia to her imaginary appendage that kept it moving with the force of her will. The instant she let herself relax, though, the hill sank back into the earth and brought with it any evidence that anything had happened. This prompted a frustrated groan from the unicorn, followed by a naturally exhausted response from her body. She immediately felt weakened by the experience and dropped to her knees, breathing heavily and letting her body relax to regain its energy; she felt like she spent everything she had just to do that little tiny shift in ground, only to have it sink away from her. She moved the book over, still feeling almost no resistance from the telekinesis required to do so, and read the following text.
"Well done, mage, you managed to do what very few ever have. However, this is nothing to celebrate, for you took initiative into your own hooves to continue the lesson, and so you must learn from your mistakes."
Twilight felt something brush across her lip, and looked down to see the soil beneath her stained with blood. She wiped her muzzle with her hoof and realized that her nose was bleeding profusely, but she didn't really have the incentive to fix it at the moment. The unicorn simply resolved to go find something to block the bleeding if it got to the point of danger, but for now she just wished to continue reading.
"What you've done was an attempt to break the earth away from its source, which is how telekinesis works; but recall that we made a very specific distinction regarding telekinesis and earth magic. The earth fought you all the way and you actually managed to win, which is no laughing matter, but earth magic is not about fighting the ground, it's about controlling it and working with it. Should you try to pull the earth away from its source again, you will destroy your own mind (and it is very much possible that you could have done that here) so you must find a way to affect the source and not the product. When you lift ground, it creates a vacuum somewhere within the planet; something that needs to be filled or it will simply be empty space that attempts to pull its loss back into it, and this is what causes the difficulty. Replace all that you move, and the earth will be a tool that can be bent, shaped, and molded to your will; a skill that can be honed with practice until the very mountains themselves will tremble before your might."
"Replace what you move..." Twilight repeated her lesson with a gasping breath, standing back up on her quivering legs and replanting her hooves in the soil. She leaned her head down once more and tried to control her breathing again, scanning for the beat of the world in a somewhat impatient manner. The longer she stood there, the more the lesson started to 'kick in' for her; so she slowed her thinking and let the world's beat come to her instead.
She had enough time to catch her second wind and calm down, but no sooner did that come than did the beat of the world rejoin with her body. She was a natural; taking to this focus and discipline very quickly, and indeed it would impress (and probably intimidate) her instructor, if she had one that is. She focused once more on the spot before her, but this time she brought her senses to be more broad in their approach. She pressed onto two spaces directly beside the spot she wanted to raise, using more of these imagined arms, and began to feel the world shift. In no time, and with almost no effort, the earth to the side of her designated space began to sink, causing the spot between them to rise and build on itself like a spire. She locked her gaze with the tip of this small citadel, bringing the thing up to nearly eye level of herself and holding it there with an incredible sense of accomplishment. She was so intently focused on this minor pinnacle that she didn't hear the door open behind her.
"Now what are you doing?" Spike's voice invaded the unicorn's thoughts once again, breaking her focus away from her spire and directing it toward a reflex to hide herself. Spike had walked in on Twilight before, and each time she would flinch as her focus was broken away, making her react in the same way as if she had been doing something wrong, even when she wasn't, and this was no different. She flinched and flailed her hooves, but with a mind so intent on directing her will she couldn't stop the inevitable "flinching" of the invisible arms that had been manipulating the ground around her. The spire shot up into the air, gaining an altitude almost as high as the tree next to them and piercing one of the various branches on the way up. The thing thinned out to compensate for lack of matter, turning it into a spear of earth that seemed to compress and harden with the surprised contraction of Twilight's mind and muscles.
Both the unicorn and the dragon stared wide-eyed at the sudden growth, utterly surprised at the power behind it. After a few tense seconds, the branch that the spear had pierced fell to the ground before them with a shivering crack; luckily it wasn't one of the ones supporting anything in the home.
"Holy sh--" Spike began a very surprised interjection, but was interrupted by a very unamused Twilight Sparkle.
"Spike! I was really focused on that... Oh, sweet Princess look what happened! I'm going to be so angry if that went into one of the rooms!"
"I'm sorry, Twilight... But what exactly is that?"
"It's Earth Magic, Spike. I'm using my mind to manipulate the ground and earth itself without having to pick up things with my telekinesis and cobble something lamely together."
"I think maybe you're pushing yourself a little too hard... You look really tired." Spike, still standing behind the unicorn, had managed to catch the weakness in Twilight's stance as she struggled to hold herself up.
"Nah, I just tried it the wrong way earlier and that's what did it... I just need to catch my breath a little bit, and I could do this all night." Twilight turned as she said this, starting toward the library to check for any damages upstairs.
"Woah! Your nose is bleeding!" Spike caught glimpse of Twilight's badly bleeding muzzle, pointing it out to the unicorn as she walked past him and toward the back door into the library.
"Yeah, I know... but it'll be fine, it's just a little nosebleed." Twilight glanced into the window of the door, catching a reflection of her face and seeing the severity of the wound. "Woah... nevermind, I didn't think it was that bad."
"Did that thing hit you on the way up?"
"No, no it's all coming from the inside of my nose..." Twilight stared into the reflection and watched blood flow from her muzzle, not feeling any kind of pain but certainly feeling an appropriate level of worry from the sheer volume. She looked back over her shoulder and saw a nearly continuous trail of the crimson liquid following behind her from soil to doorstep. "Could you go get me a rag, Spike?"
"Way ahead of you..." Spike had already stepped over the threshold of the open door and run into the kitchen, grabbing the nearest, darkest towel that he could and rushing it back out to the wounded unicorn.
"Thank you, maybe you're right, I do need a rest." Twilight took the towel in her hoof and pressed it up against her muzzle. As her body slowly lost its adrenaline rush from all of the accomplishment earlier, she began to feel a dull pain right between her eyes.
"Don't you wanna eat dinner first?" Spike grabbed onto Twilight's foreleg as she stepped across the threshold into the house. She didn't dare use her telekinesis to hover the towel against her face, but the book stayed perfectly level on her back regardless of how stumbling her movements were.
"No thank you, Spike... I'm actually feeling kinda nauseous..." This wasn't entirely a lie, the taste of blood didn't exactly sit well with a strict vegetarian such as Twilight.
"Well go lay down, and leave this book someplace where you can't get at it. It's getting late anyway and I don't think it would be a good idea for you to stay up all night reading that thing again."
"You're right, Spike, and you know what? I don't really trust myself. Here, take the book and go hide it until tomorrow." Twilight shifted her hips toward the dragon, who promptly took the book into his claws and thought about where he might store it.
"Alright, Twi. Lemme just help you upstairs and then I'll hide it, you're looking a little woozy still." Twilight didn't object to this, but found her mind almost entirely blank to thoughts of the book itself. She could only think in a frustratingly nonsensical pattern. She groaned as the ladder to her sleeping area came into view: she had forgotten about that wretched thing. Spike quickly ran up with the book coiled in his tail, dropping it behind one of the bookcases up there as he dragged Twilight's bed toward the edge. "Want me to just bring this down there for you? That way you don't have to climb right now and probably fall and break your neck."
"Sure, drop it down, let me just get out of the wa--" Spike heard the word 'sure' and just tossed the mattress down with a loud bang, followed by both pillows and the quilted comforter that Twilight kept. "--ay... Thank you, Spike." Luckily the furniture didn't hit her, but at that point she probably wouldn't have cared either way. She plopped her weary body down onto the soft mattress and moved a pillow over to support her head at an upward angle. Spike climbed back down the ladder and saw Twilight laying on her back, towel still clutched onto her nose with a now relaxed hoof and falling into a very deep sleep almost instantly. It wasn't any secret that he was intensely worried, but all he could really think to do was tuck her in. He didn't leave, though, instead deciding to drag his own small bed down and set it right beside hers, curling up and trying to get to sleep as well.
"Goodnight, Twilight." He whispered softly to the unconscious unicorn, sighing with disappointment as no response came from her other than the rattly breath of a very tired pony.